Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Puddles of Flame" - Tribute to Una Boles

You can live your life waiting for the fire. You can see it blazing and shield your eyes from the blaze. You can even study every element of aftermath and chemical make up of the flames. Until you walk through that fire you will not ever fully understand it.

I grew up the only child, only grandchild and only niece in my family. It can be both a blessing and a curse.

The Lord prepares us for that fire. I know it looking back. I had just parked my car when my phone rang at 9 PM on Monday, March 28. My uncle was not making much sense. "Julie, you need to come home, honey. Mama's gone. Mama died. She had a heart attack." I told him to calm down and that I needed to call my Dad and make some plans. There went the match to start the fire.

Una Boles is Mom's mom. She was 83 and more than anything she wanted to see Heaven. In order to fully understand our bond you must know I had five grandparents growing up. Grandaddy Don was married to Rae after his divorce to Granny Jac. Grandaddy Bill was Una's husband and he passed away of a heart attack in 1980 before I was born. Yes, he ran five miles as a total health nut and fell over at the school where he coached. Yes, my mother passed away the same way. Yes, Granny Jac had a heart attack three years ago and fell over on her couch. Dad says it's the best way to go as he watched Grandaddy suffer so long. I say personally it sure makes us feel like we are run over by a truck and have to get up and walk again.

Grandmommy had only be hospitalized once in her life for an appendectomy. She wasn't on any medication at all. She seemed in good health. Other than she weighed maybe 90 pounds. After Grandaddy passed she went on living, but never dreamed of dating again. After her daughter passed ten years ago it was like her lights just went out. She was the youngest of six children so they had all passed on as well. She was just living in this shell. When she was in good spirits she was hilarious and witty. Growing up she was always my favorite because she was fun and sweet. She had a heart for God like no other. She loved Jesus. With all of this though she would often tell me she wanted to go to Heaven. Selfishly I wanted her here, but she said she just wanted to be up there. Uncle Mike had gone to live with her a few years ago just to watch out for her so he was a tennis pro in Abilene. When he got back from his lesson he could see her inside sprawled on the table. He kicked down the door, but she was gone.

We spoke three times that weekend. We usually spoke once a week or so. She spoke with Dad every Saturday morning. They were still very close as he was like a son to her. She called to check on me Saturday and we talked for a long time for some reason. I was telling her about my friends that had student loan debt from college and how thankful I was I never had any and she in turn told me about getting a job to support my mother in college because Mom was going to go to college on a tennis scholarship, but was burned out so Grandmommy got a job to help support her. We talked about Don and Jackie's divorce because she and Bill never took sides and I told her that lesson had helped me deal with friends in big break ups. I even told her about the lady that just turned 119 and I needed her to live that long. She told me she just prayed her body would go before her mind! She called Sunday morning about sending me some newspaper clippings. I called her later that day to tell her Kansas messed up my bracket. She was married to a coach so she loved sports! We always talked sports!

Most of Grandmommy's adult life was centered around Mom's tennis and Mike's tennis and other sports. She also followed Grandaddy Bill to his events. She loved it. Bill was inducted into the Texas Tennis Coach's Hall of Fame in 1993 and the remaining Boles were there in attendance. She grew up in Abilene on a farm. At one point during the war the government used their land as a Prisoner of War Camp. She also told me a story of how she got three to five engagement rings from men going overseas. She has no idea what really ever happened to them; just knew they wanted a woman when they got back. Well, when she and Bill got married they used some of those rings to get money for her engagement ring!!!

In the car on the way to Mom's funeral I will never forget it was very quiet and Grandmommy said, "This too shall pass." That's the thing about fire. Sometime the flames have to die down. And you always learn something from them. I sifted through a book about grief telling me the stages and telling me to how to handle them and I felt a smile spread across my face. I could write this book. With all I had already been through I know grief. It's something one can only learn while they walk through those flames. I know I might not handle it the right or best way possible, but I also know atleast I understand it. It passes and we have to go on with our lives. We remember it and we remember them, but we don't stop because what do I always say... God didn't ask us for permission.

We knew the fire was coming for a long time. We prepared our hearts mentally for the day she yearned for. As the flames roar around us and we wave our arms to see through the smoke we take one step at a time. She happily dances through the drops of rain as they slowly put out the flames. Ten years ago in the darkest of her nights she told us this, too, would pass. If she can say that in the blazing fire of her life I can dance in the puddles of flame. You can see it. You can study it. You can make it through it.

Mom, Uncle Mike, Grandmommy at Bill's induction into the Texas Tennis Coach's Hall of Fame

Una and Bill

Four of the most important women in my life: Mom, Grandmommy, Cousin Donna, Granny Jac

The flowers atop Grandmommy's casket showcased a yellow rose in memory of Mom

Grandmommy, Mom and Granny Jac at Mom's wedding shower

Dad's mom, Granny Jac and Grandmommy with me on Texas Tech Graduation Day 2004

Grandmommy & Grandaddy Bill with Dad

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